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What links a café in Antarctica, a factory for producing electronic tracking tags and a casino where gamblers can wager their shoes? They're among the multiple venues where award-winning writer Tania Hershman sets her unique tales in this spellbinding debut collection.
Fleeing from tragedy, a bereaved mother opens a cafe on the road to the South Pole. A town which has always suffered extreme cold enjoys sudden warmth. A stranger starts plaiting a young woman's hair. A rabbi comes face to face with an angel in a car park. An elderly woman explains to her young carer what pregnancy used to mean before science took over. A middle-aged housewife overcomes a fear of technology to save her best friend. A desperate childless woman resorts to extreme measures to adopt. A young man's potential is instantly snuffed out by Nature's whims. A lonely widow bakes cakes in the shape of test tubes and DNA.
A number of these stories are inspired by articles from science magazines, taking fact as their starting points and wondering what might happen if . . .? In these surreal, lyrical stories, many of which are only a few pages long, Tania Hershman allows her imagination free reign, as her characters navigate through love, death, friendship, spirituality, mental illness and the havoc wreaked by the weather.
‘Incredibly lush, intelligent, seductive, Hershman’s collection reveals a marvelously varied repertoire of narrative styles and subjects that are so compelling, so deliciously readable, it’s impossible to finish one story without quickly beginning another. There is a double-genius at work here, a writer who is capable of seamlessly marrying the religion of physics to the twin sciences of loss and desire. Hershman possesses the rare scientific eye and accomplished literary sensibility of Bradbury, the wry clarity of Atwood. This collection is telescopic and rich, it puts down roots, it doesn’t leave you.’ —Sunshine O’Donnell, author of ‘Open Me’
‘What do a library, an Antarctic station and a dream casino where gamblers can wager their shoes have in common? They're among the multiple venues where Tania Hershman sets the extraordinary tales of The White Road. But though Ms. Hershman is willing to go anywhere in her imagination, her stories are anchored by a poignant awareness of sorrow beneath the surface. The White Road is a unique combination of narrative extravagance and human intimacy.
’ —Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of ‘Strange Fire and A Faker's Dozen’
‘Tania Hershman's very short stories manage to pack the punch of fiction many times longer. Her strategy is highly original,
consistently interesting, and astonishingly moving. Joining the
impersonal facts of scientific research with our human fragility,
complexity and tragedy, Hershman extracts poignancy out of the laws of nature.
’ —Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of ‘The Mind-Body Problem’ and ‘Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel’
‘These stories are acute, meticulous, memorable. Tania Hershman is definitely a writer worth watching.’ —Toby Litt
‘...an author dripping with talent, this is as good as modern reading gets.’ —New Scientist Christmas Books Special: Best of 2008
‘This collection exemplifies everything that is best about the short story. With succinctness rarely seen in the work of someone new to fiction, Hershman extracts the very essence of a moment to reveal the poignant fragility of human relationships... each story is so different from the next that you will be tempted to read ‘just one more’, until you find you have read the whole book in one sitting. Hershman writes in a variety of style that are sometimes whimsical and playful, other times wry and edgy, so that you never tire of her narrative voice.’ —Dominique Wilson